Ruban Selvakumar, Los Angeles

Ruban Selvakumar is a soon-to-be dad (this December), a 16-year techie, a lifelong car enthusiast and an even longer-term Road Warrior. In fact, Ruban has been traveling since he himself was in the womb. After flying an estimated 20,000 miles before he was even born, he traveled regularly with his parents and sister from their family home in Vancouver, British Columbia, and, later, Lancaster, Calif., while growing up. When he turned 15, Ruban's enthusiasm for travel grew even more. Over the next 13 years, Ruban moved from city to city 16 times - until he met his wonderful wife, Chital, who used Jedi mind tricks to convince him to settle down (somewhat) in Los Angeles. Despite paying a mortgage in L.A., Ruban's home is often wherever his 22-inch carry-on bag happens to be. He has flown well over a million miles.

Following in his parents' footsteps, Ruban has already started to ensure his future son becomes a Road Warrior as well. His son has already been to London, Paris, Monaco, San Francisco and Phoenix before taking a single breath. And, if all goes well, he'll be in San Diego in January to be the first baby to make an appearance at an American Way Road Warrior photo shoot.

In addition to his family, traveling and cars, Ruban loves his work, which is fortunate, because he spends quite a bit of time doing it. By day, he co-heads the hedge-fund-technology consulting team at GFT, a Germany-based company. By night, he is a partner of G2 FinTech, which develops a software product called TaxGopher.

Challenge #1

Write an essay describing why you should win this year's Road Warrior Contest. And here's the rub, you need to include 10 idioms throughout your story if you know what's good for you.

*An idiom is the language or expressions used by a specific group of people. Example of idioms: We're pleased as punch that you decided to enter the 11th Annual American Way Road Warrior Contest! So, step up to the plate and give it your best shot . (Limit of 600 words or 3,000 characters).


Right now, I'm higher than a kite, on AA 143 from BOS to LAX, racing against the clock to the 11th Annual American Way Road Warrior Contest deadline. I found out about this contest a month ago, but time has flown by in a New York minute and the deadline is hours away. I'm an engineer, a businessman, a procrastinator. If you're reading this looking for Shakespeare, you're barking up the wrong tree. A leopard can't change his spots, and when it comes to writing, make no bones about it: I try to pass the buck whenever I can. It seems like it should be easy to come up with some cock and bull story claiming that I fly to save the world, but I don't have one.

Why do I fly so much? My parents say it's because, years ago, my mom took me from London to Sri Lanka to London to Los Angeles to Vancouver. And that was all while I was still in her belly. According to them, me in an airplane is like a fish in water. Why do I think I fly so much? In a nutshell, RJ. RJ (aka "Ruban Junior") is the codename for my yet unnamed son my wife and I are expecting in December. I haven't even met him yet, and he's already the apple of my eye. Whether I'm sick as a dog or high on the hog, I work every day to create a nest egg for my family. I'm head over heels with excitement about meeting him and I want to go the extra mile to provide the best I can for him, just like my parents did for me.

Rome wasn't built in one day, and neither was the small consulting business that I helped build over the past five years. Our company is built on reputation and personal relationships, and I need to be where my customers are. I'm often asked, "Can't you just do a video conference instead?", which just drives me up the wall. "No. In person meetings work better", I politely tell them, but what I really want to do is tell them to "put a sock in it." There's no technology in the world that lets you capture the feel of a room, grab a cup of joe with a customer before a meeting, or slap a high five with a colleague after closing a deal. Those subtle aspects of human interaction are why I fly over 100,000 miles each year.

Would I rather spend that time with my wife at home? Maybe when pigs fly. I'm a Road Warrior! When I tied the knot a couple of years ago, I took an oath to love her, protect her and take her WITH me around the world until I kick the bucket. Now, with RJ on the way, people tell me that I soon will not be able to be the Road Warrior I am today while still being the father I want to be. Maybe that's true, but I'm still crossing my fingers that RJ will be a chip off the old block and that we have a lifetime of adventure ahead of us. The little guy has a big world to see and 500,000 miles would surely help him follow in his daddy's footsteps. Besides, RJ can't wait to see San Diego in January.

Challenge #2

Give us your 5 Warrior W's (Limit of 70 words or 350 characters for each answer):

Who are you?
Dad-to-be; husband; son; brother; life-long obsessed car guy who sometimes cheats on his car with his wife.

What do you do?
During my day job, I co-manage the Alternative Investments practice at GFT, a European-based technology consulting firm, and at night I'm on the board and co-owner of G2 FinTech, a software company that develops tax analysis software. In short, I help rich people get richer by day, and ensure they pay their taxes by night. In between, I try to make sure my family and friends remember what I look

Why do you fly so much?
Mainly because it's a lot faster than walking, and my customers refuse to come to me. Experiencing different sights and sounds, tasting various foods, immersing myself in different cultures and learning multiple languages are merely the perks of the job.

Where do you go?
For work: Boston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Milwaukee, Sao Paolo, London, Monaco, Stuttgart, Barcelona, Sydney. For fun: all of the "work" destinations, as well as Italy, France, Germany, Coast Rica, Thailand, Japan, China, Hong Kong, India, UAE and Canada

When did this lifestyle begin?
I first became an AA frequent flier while living in Dallas from 2001 to 2005. The combination of AA and DFW was a weekend vacationer's dream: AA allows you to go pretty much anywhere in the continental US from DFW within 1-4 hours. However, I wasn't a true Road Warrior until I moved to California and became the West Coast Director of a Boston-based, start-up technology consulting company in 2007.

Challenge #3

Describe a typical 2-week time period in your life of flying American Airlines' routes, cities visited, miles flown, etc. (Limit of 300 words or 1,500 characters).

I first became a true Road Warrior in 2007, when I moved to Los Angeles as the West Coast Director of a Boston-based, start-up consulting company. While a reasonable person might think that "West Coast" consists of California, Oregon and Washington, we defined it as everything west of Hoboken, NJ, including Australia.

Over the years, I relied on AA as I visited clients across the "West Coast" while attending conferences in Las Vegas and internal management team meetings in Boston. Last October, we sold our company to a German firm. For the most part, work is pretty similar to before the acquisition, except now: Boston is also part of the "West Coast"; conferences are in Barcelona and Monaco; management team meetings are in New York and Stuttgart; I have 5 employees in Brazil and 2 in London; and my wife is pregnant. What hasn't changed is that the aforementioned wife still lives in LA. Unsurprisingly, I re-qualified for Executive Platinum status by May, a new personal record.

Presently, half of my 2-week cycle is consistent. Every other Monday, the first destination is Boston, where I have several employees and important clients. After 2 to 3 days of meetings, I fly down to New York, where my co-team lead, most of my employees and my boss are located. At the end of the week, I'll catch an evening flight back to LA.

On my "off" week, I travel wherever I'm needed. Often, that means San Francisco, but also could be Chicago, Dallas, Sao Paolo, London, Monaco, Barcelona, Stuttgart and sometimes, back to New York or Boston. Some weeks, I'm only on 2 flights; other weeks, it'll be 8. I rarely know where I'm going to be more than 2 weeks in advance, and that's the way I like it.

Challenge #4

What revs your 777 engine?

Favorite snack food(s): Chocolate chip cookies, Oreo milkshakes

Favorite candy(s): I actually don't eat candy. Yes, I'm weird, I know.

Favorite grab 'n go drink(s): Coke, Fruit Punch Gatorade and water

Favorite smart phone app(s): AA, Google maps, Yelp, Harvest Time & Expense tracker, Kayak, Amazon and World Card Reader